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>> yeah, it's amazing. good for mickey. >> i'm lester holt, and this is "dateline." josh mankowitz has our story. southern louisiana laced with mysterious bayous and twisted waterways, where surprises lurk around every bend. a place that can be as dangerous as it is majestic. it's where all the currents of our story cross. fear, secrets, loss, but most of all, love and family. charlene and michaela shunick grew up here, near the gulf coast in lafayette. at first, these two barely tolerated one another. >> you and your sister are how far apart in age? >> two years. >> so i'm guessing that growing up you were probably at each
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other's throats? >> yeah, all the time. you know, it's war between girls until they realize they're friends. >> but then these two sisters didn't just become friends, they became best friends. >> once i moved out of my parents' house, we got really close. >> the shunick girls had plenty in common. big smiles. equally big puffy yellow hair and nicknames normally reserved for boys. charlene was known around lafayette as charlie, and michaela -- >> she never ever went by anything but mickey. it was always mickey, no michaela. >> parents tom and nancy kept a watchful eye as two very similar-looking girls developed two very different personalities. >> charlie was the dominant one. >> she was always really outgoing, really just a fire ball. >> mickey, on the other hand, had an intriguing, quiet way
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about her. >> she seemed to be sort of an enchanted magical creature. >> she was sarcastic and kind of shy. >> are you recording? are you doing that right now? come on. >> really quick-witted, really funny. >> at 21, mickey lived at home, while studying anthropology at the home of the ragin' cajuns, the university of louisiana at lafayette. >> where did you see her going? >> i was pretty sure she was going to ending up teaching horseback riding lessons and working for an equestrian farm and maybe owning her own some day. >> animals were a big part of her life. >> all of our lives, but especially hers. >> she never met a stray? >> she would take it home. she brought home a goat, a pig, different birds. every kind of reptile you can think of. >> and when mickey wasn't with her animals, you could see her whizzing around town on her
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bike. >> lauf yfayette is a small towd you can get anywhere on a bike in 20, 30 minutes. >> which is why on a late friday night back in may having listened to music with friends, mickey planned on riding her bike up. >> we grew up there. it seemed really safe. >> mickey's brother's high school graduation was just hours away, but before calling it a night she decided to stop off at the home of her friend, bradley wilson. >> it's nice out, i'm tired but the bike ride will be amazing. i'll put in my head phones, bike home and then do the graduation. walked her to the door. turned, told her good night, to be safe. >> that did not at the time seem like an important moment. but it would later be revisited and re-examined again and again, because somewhere at some point after she left his house, mickey shunick vanished. >> that was the last time i saw her.
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>> later that morning, charlie called mickey to reminding her about their braother, zack's graduation. >> her phone wasn't on. that's kind of weird. my mom was like where's mickey? i don't know what she's up to but she's not here. so we go to my brother's graduation. >> an she's not there? >> she's not there. >> that's not like her. >> i'm texting her like you're an idiot, where are you, what's going on here? >> so even at the graduation you're still thinking you're a moron, not something is wrong. >> yeah, yeah. it's like darn it, mickey. >> but by late afternoon, it started to change. >> my mom text me, hey, have you heard from mickey? what's going on? >> if she'd had some plan to run off with somebody or alone, you'd have known about it? >> oh, yeah. mickey and i talk about everything. >> and in that instant, irritation turned to fear. nancy started calling all the
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hospitals, as charlie turned to bre brettly wilson. she said her sister never made it home that morning. >> he'confused, he says, oh, no, well, she left my house and said she had to go home for zack's graduation. that's when i freaked out and started crying. i couldn't process anything. >> from the start you could tell this was an extraordinary circumstance. >> captain kelly gibson and detective steve are with the police department. >> she didn't answer her phone and she always answered her phone. she had a birthday in a day or two. had plans to go to new orleans to see a local band. >> this was not somebody who was just going to vanish? >> no. she had never done that before. she had always let her family know where she was going to be. >> the shunick family took to the streets in search of mickey. and they would be joined by legions of people from the
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lafayette community. >> it was just unbelievable. >> we still have hope. what we want to do is find her. so that's what we're trying to do. >> what had happened to mickey? when we come back, police have some questions for everyone, including that friend who was the last person to see her before she vanished. >> i remember yelling, no, i didn't do anything to her. no! >> and a flickering, fleeting clue. was this mickey? go get her. this christmas, fall in love all over. you won't run into the top 10 appliance brands just anywhere... eddie... only sears carries them all.
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there is not a single name that we came up with, someone that would be responsible for this. no one could think of even one person. >> did she have any enemies? >> everyone i know liked her. no one ever said anything bad about her. >> no obvious suspects, no real evidence of foul play. a beautiful girl, gone without a
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trace. >> there was very little physical evidence that we had to follow. >> the last message that she received on her cell phone was around 1:46 in the morning on may 19th. but after that, there has been no activity. >> i mean that in and of itself sounds kind of ominous. >> yes. >> it's a truism of police work that the last person to see a victim alive is the first focus of the investigation. so police brought in mickey's friend, brettly wilson, for questioning. >> at first it was just help us eliminate you, and then it transitioned into, you know, mistakes happen. you can -- you can tell us if there was a mistake. and that segued into you loved her, didn't you? i mean, you know, pretty girl, loved you, you spurned her. maybe you should just let us know now. >> wilson insisted he had nothing to do with his good
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friend's disappearance. >> i remember yelling that repeatedly. no, no, we were just friends. no, i didn't do anything to her. no, that was the last time i saw her. it was unrelenting. >> you guys took this pretty seriously? >> absolutely. >> we could take nothing for granted. >> as the investigation gathered steam, several hundred friends and neighbors of the shunick family came together to scour the streets of lafayette. >> we're a really small city with a lot of people in it. everyone knew a shunick. someone new someone who knew us and it was like wildfire. everyone got involved. >> the whole community was there. you just couldn't believe the outpouring, just overwhelming. >> people who knew her or people who just felt your pain? >> both, yeah. >> soon more than 1800 people from in and around lafayette were filtering through a make-shift search headquarters set up on the university of louisiana campus. >> it was amazing.
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there would just be people coming in covered in rashes and poison ivy and bug bites and dirt in their hair and they had been climbing up trees and digging through brush. >> looking for a girl they had never met? >> yeah. >> social media played a big part in this? >> facebook is like the number one way we reached anyone. >> and leading the charge was charlie. >> she talked to everybody, she did radio interviews at midnight. she got up at 3:00 in the morning and went over to a tv station. it's always the same thing, we've got to find mickey, we've got to bring mickey home. >> the 24-year-old, 5'2", sometimes blonde, sometimes redhead, had become the tip of the speer in a multistate, multinational search effort. >> charlie had had all the missing posters translated into spanish and people went and flooded all the border towns and the border crossings. >> i was telling the social media team what to say, what
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they shouldn't say, how they should phrase things. i was telling the head quarter coordinators where to put bottles of water and the sandwiches and stuff. >> doesn't leave you a lot of time to worry about your sister. maybe that was the idea? >> that was just what happened. >> what was this doing to charlie? >> man, she -- she stood up. she turned out to have a spine of steel, that kid. >> i felt like everyone was depending on me to stay positive and, you know -- >> be the rock? i think it was tougher on you than you're putting on. >> you have to put up babiers. otherwise you can't function. >> a week went by. then a breakthrough. a surveillance camera that captured this image. a bicyclist headed down a dark street in the direction of mickey's home on the night she disappeared.
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police called you to come in and look at that video. was that mickey? >> yes. you could see the big blaunonde afro that we're known for. it was her mannerisms, it was her bike. >> what was that like to see her? >> it was exciting. it proves she got at least this far so now we have a place to start from instead of searching the whole city. >> police came to believe that whatever happened to mickey shunick probably happened right around here on this lonely stretch of road that was part of her normal route home. now, police saw mickey on security cameras during the early part of her journey, but not on the cameras that she would have passed later on. the only problem was that a detailed and extensive search of this area turned up nothing. but there was something else detectives saw on that security video, something much more ominous. here just after mickey cycled out of frame, someone in a white pickup truck drives into frame, following mickey at an
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uncomfortably close distance. now, for the first time police felt they had evidence someone else was involved. charlie knew that if mickey had been abducted, it wouldn't have happened without a fight. >> if someone took her and she was conscious, they're hurting. they have broken ribs, they have a broken arm, broken nose. i kept saying that, look for someone who's beat up around the office, around your neighborhood, because they might be responsible for this. >> it would have been totally in character for her to fight back? but the clue in that video would prove as frustrating as it was fascinating. >> there have got to be a lot of white pickup trucks in louisiana. >> within lafayette parish and surrounding parishes, over 3,000. coming up, a giant turn in the case. >> stephen bajat turned to me and said, okay, i don't want you to freak out or anything, but i think we found her bike. >> where was it? what had happened?
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a blonde on a bicycle, a white truck pursuing her. now investigators were pursuing that truck, and it wouldn't be easy. here on the gulf coast, white chevy pickups are as common as hot sauce. >> definitely didn't narrow down the search. it was probably one of the more popular vehicles in the area. >> definitely kept us busy. >> those images did prove one thing conclusively, they were taken after brettly wilson says
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he last saw mickey, proving he was telling the truth. mickey had left his house, alive and well, when he said she did. >> that was a big deal because brettly was cleared. it proved that someone we didn't know probably took her. >> as the relentlessly hot louisiana summer days slowly came and went, charlie shunick proved to be equally relentless, continuing her appeal to the public, determined to find her sister, mickey. >> nothing else really seemed very important at the time either aside from what we were doing. >> all the other things in your life kind of just fade away? >> yeah, yeah. >> but by week two, the fear of the unknown began to take its toll on the shunick family. which was now forced to re-examine just what it was they were hoping had happened to mickey. >> i thought, you know, someone
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saw this cute little girl riding her bike down the street and hit her on purpose and they have her and are doing god knows what with. >> but she's still alive. >> yeah, that's what we were thinking, absolutely. >> as for mickey's mom, nancy, hers was a hope only a mother could feel. >> anybody who spends any time with her is not going to want to hurt her, because if you spend a few minutes with her, you like her, you love her and you don't want to hurt her. >> without mickey, your mom was having a very tough time? >> yeah. yeah. i don't -- it's just i feel so bad for my mom, you know. she always said that if she ever lost one of us, she would not be able to go on in life. but yeah, it was pretty hard on her.
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it was just so shocking. i mean who does this happen to? >> and then eight days after mickey vanished, the investigation took a huge leap forward. >> stephen bajat turned to me and said okay, i don't want you to freak out or anything, but i think we found her bike. >> two fishermen had found mickey's bike east of lafayette in a bottle of water called whiskey bay just under the interstate. >> it was covered in mud and, you know, dried water from being in the swamp. >> how far away from where she disappeared was the bicycle foundin found? >> 25 miles. >> that's not a good sign. >> no, it's not. >> now police had hard physical evidence on which to build a theory of the crime. >> what could you tell from looking at the bicycle? >> that there was significant damage to the back tire. it looked like it had been impacted. >> somebody had rammed her? >> that's what it looked like. >> scary? >> yeah, i almost passed out actually. i had to brace myself up against the table. i was thinking, okay, this was a
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malicious act. who did this? >> police immediately began the sober task of searching for mickey in the several thousand acres of louisiana's largest swampland. >> we focused a lot of manpower and efforts into the search of this area. we had individuals on air boats like we're on now, atvs. we had officers on horseback, just an amazing search effort. >> is that where you sort of began to think we're probably no longer looking for somebody who's alive? >> right. it was more of a recovery effort at that point. >> but several days of searching turned up nothing. meanwhile, investigators appealed for help in identifying the owner of a white chevrolet z-71 pickup. >> that vehicle should be able to be spotted by the public. >> we got a lot of tips, well over a thousand tips from the tips line alone that we had. tips saying there's a white pickup here. women calling on their boyfriends on husbands saying
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he's kind of deviant. i think he could be responsible for it, the disappearance of mickey. i mean it ran the whole gamut of tips. >> it's interesting, you had half the community sort of pulling together to find mickey and like the other half sort of informing on each other about that case. >> i don't know about that, but we certainly had a lot of tips coming in. >> and that's how police received their best lead yet, a story rich in detail involving this man, rocky mcgee. >> we received a tip that he was intoxicated and that he had encountered mickey riding her bicycle and struck her with his vehicle and picked up her bike and her body and dumped her in the whiskey bay area. >> 19-year-old rocky mcgee did indeed drive a white pickup truck. he also had a history of drinking and driving. >> he was involved in a traffic crash that involved alcohol and a fatality. >> in fact at the time mickey disappeared, rocky was about to
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be tried for dui manslaughter. to frustrated detectives, all the pieces of the puzzle were coming together. >> he had had a prior and was going through a court process at the time, so it would fit and be feasible that he would try and dispose of a bicycle and a body so that you would eliminate the crime completely. >> had mickey shunick become rocky mcgee's second victim? >> it seemed to be great information. >> but in louisiana, just like its waterways, things in this case seldom were predictable or followed a logical path. if detectives were ready to believe this was simply the work of a drunk driver, it would soon be proven completely wrong. coming up, a tantalizing new lead. >> even those closest to him didn't know that he had that secret life. and later, a dramatic police interrogation.
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>> come on in, guys. >> the search for mickey shunick has spread over most of the gulf coast. it had involved hundreds of people and thousands of police hours, and now a caller to the tip line claiming that mickey had been the victim of a drunk driver was a game-changer for detectives. >> if you strike someone and you're intoxicated, that's foul play. so it looked promising. i only spoke to him one time. he denied any involvement. ultimately when prerkssured, he asked for an attorney. >> still determined to find mickey, news quickly leaked that police were questioning a person of interest. and when it did, the name rocky mcgee went viral. >> it was like all over the
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news, all over the social media pages and everything. >> and the next thing you know, everybody was talking about rocky mcgee. >> correct. >> and it spread like wildfire. >> the tip line was suddenly full of callers. including one claiming to have firsthand knowledge that not only had rocky killed mickey, but he also had an accomplice. >> this individual came forward and said that rocky's girlfriend, she was present when he was drunk and hit her and that they picked up the bike and the body and disposed of her. >> andy cormier was the girlfriend accused of helping rocky. she first learned of the accusations against her and her boyfriend from rocky's mother. >> his mom comes up to me and tells me rocky has been taken by lafayette to be questioned in the mickey shunick case. she's hysterical, she's crying. she's confused. she was like they think you did it too. >> like her significant other,
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rocky, andy cormier founding herself grilled like a red fish. >> it never happened. it never happened. >> for days police worked around the clock investigating mcgee's alleged involvement. they processed his white pickup, looking for any dna that could be traced back to mickey. >> we spent a lot of manpower and a lot of time investigating this. >> i actually thought that we were really going to be blamed for something we didn't do, and i was praying for somebody to come forward and admit what they said was false. >> then almost as quickly as rocky mcgee surfaced as mickey's alleged killer, the case around him collapsed when police brought mcgee's first accuser back to be questioned again. >> the original tipster admitted that he had fabricated the story. >> it turned out that neither rocky mcgee nor his girlfriend, andy, had anything to do with mickey's disappearance.
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they were instead the victims of what turned out to be a hoax. >> so this tip that you got, this was what, just somebody who had it out for him? >> i think what it was, was it turned out to be someone that just wanted attention. >> ate up a lot of your time? >> ate up a lot of our time. >> and that was probably the negative aspect of the social media. >> frustrating? >> very. >> but the saying once burned, twice shy was a luxury detectives couldn't afford. so when two new tips came in about another owner of a white pickup truck who had been acting suspicious lately, detective bajat rolled up his sleeves once again. >> both tips came in a week apart and were independent of themselves. >> and who were they telling you to look at? >> brandon scott lavergne. >> brandon scott lavergne was a 33-year-old mechanic who worked on oil rigs just offshore. >> the first tip was a close acquaintance who said he was acting suspiciously.
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>> the tipster said on the weekend mickey went missing, lavergne traveled to new orleans and came back with some serious stab wounds on his upper body. >> he was telling them that he had been robbed and mugged in new orleans while he was down there. what they found suspicious was that he had no reason to go to new orleans that weekend and his story just didn't make sense. >> and it wasn't just what the tipster was saying that interested detective bajat. it was also who the tipster was. >> the tipster that called in was the future father-in-law of mr. lavergne. >> and that second tip only tightened the net around lavergne. it came from an employee of the lafayette car dealership who said that soon after mickey vanished, lavergne came in looking to buy a white pickup. >> the second tip said that brandon lavergne had gone in to purchase a vehicle, was acting suspiciously. said that he had owned a white v-71 that was stolen and he was here to buy another one.
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>> in what way was he acting suspiciously. >> during the time he was purchasing it on the news they showed a story about mickey and he got really nervous, they said. visibly nervous. >> they also learned that the soon-to-be married brandon lavergne lived in the little town of church point, louisiana, 40 minutes outside lafayette. >> he was funny. i mean he really was. >> that's where lavergne got to know his friend, candy mcdaniels. >> when we first met, i said, man, he's a great guy. he got a great job and he's good looking. i was like i've got to find one of my girl friends who's single and see if they would hit it off. >> but the more detectives delved into brandon scott lavergne's past, the more they realized how much wasn't known to those around him. >> even those closest to him didn't know that he had that secret life. and that would include his fiancee. >> oh, god.
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>> why were police questioning her? and coming up friday on "dateline" -- two detectives, part of a drug war, now asked to fight it without guns, to mentor dealers into a law-abiding life. >> the first instinct i had was just to hang up. i told them i'm not a social worker, i'm a cop. >> some dealers will shine, but at least one will push these detectives to the brink. >> it just kills me. >> will the program work here or in your town? second kidle announcer] by their second kid, every mom is an expert and more likely to choose luvs. after thousands of diaper changes, they know what works. luvs lock away wetness better than huggies for a fraction of the cost
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candy mcdaniels counted brandon scott lavergne as one of her good friends. >> i mean he was that good of a guy in my opinion. that i would want to set one of my friends up with him. >> he may have seemed like a catch to her, but police now felt they almost had him on the hook for the murder of mickey shunick. for one thing, detectives determined that the story lavergne had allegedly told his future father-in-law about being stabbed in a mugging at a gas station wasn't holding up. >> any incidents that he reported that to the police? >> detectives responded to the scene, interviewed the gas station attendingant, the video surveillance and he was nowhere near that site. >> as detectives looked into his past, they were headed down a rabbit hole into a very dark place. >> we founding out that he had
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girl friends all over the place. he thrived on the game of seducing women. >> what's more, lavergne had an addiction to prostitutes, something his fiancee didn't know. >> he would leave her residence and contact sexual escorts. >> you found that out by checking his cell phone records? >> correct. >> so this was a guy that had a life he didn't show anybody else? >> exactly. >> but this seemingly normal everyday guy, detectives learned, was also a registered sex offender, having been convicted of sexual battery back in 2000. >> that's definitely an attention getter. >> as provocative as all this was, there was nothing connecting lavergne to mickey shunick's disappearance, so detective bajat turned his attention to lavergne's white chevy pickup and to that other tip coming from the local car dealer. >> the tipster had said that his truck was stolen out of texas. >> insurance records indicated where in texas lavergne had said his truck had been stolen.
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when bajat called the sheriff there, he said the truck had been found abandoned and badly burned. >> we went and brought it back to louisiana as evidence. >> what was in there? >> there was absolutely nothing left. you couldn't even tell the color of the paint. >> so if mickey was ever in that truck, you couldn't tell? >> that's correct. the heat was intense. >> but lafayette pd now had lavergne's license plate number and from that it turned out came an extraordinary piece of police work. >> we did a little bit of research and found an image that had been taken from a traffic camera of his truck about eight hours prior to the time that mickey disappeared. >> that traffic camera not only snapped a photo of lavergne's plate number, but amazingly it also managed to capture what was in the bed of his truck. >> we were able to see that there was a four by four post as well as a white styrofoam ice chest in the bed of the pickup truck. >> bajat compared that truck in that image to the mysterious one seen following mickey. >> when we looked at the footage
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again on the night that mickey disappeared, we could clearly see a 4 x 4 post in the same position adds eight hours earlier. >> after six long weeks lafayette pd felt they had their man. >> that was his truck. >> all roads were now leading to brandon lavergne, but detectives wouldn't with absolute certainly place lavergne behind the wheel of that truck at that moment. most important of all, they still had no clue what had become of mickey. >> did you think mr. lavergne was aware that you were looking at him? >> no, i don't think that he was. that was part of our thinking, that if he had killed mickey we could keep him under surveillance and hopefully he would lead us to a gravesite. >> but lavergne never did, so now investigators raised the stakes. they decided to arrest lavergne, and sit him down for some
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quality time. >> here is a list of issues, okay. we need to address regarding the disappearance of mickey shunick. >> at first lavergne denied knowing anything about mickey. then a veteran of the criminal justice system, he asked for his attorney. >> you know, this is bull -- i didn't have nothing to do with that girl's disappearance. if you're seeing all this, no, i want an attorney. man, this is over with. >> that's when detectives turned to the one person they hoped could break the case. they brought in lavergne's fiancee for questioning. >> basically we just want to know about brandon. did he ever get angry? ever push you or hit you? >> never. not one time. >> you don't see that at all? >> i don't -- he's never showed that. i've never seen it. i don't even that in him. he has been so gentle and kind and compassionate. he's amazing.
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i would have never said yes to get married. >> as it turned out, police ended up telling her more than she told them. her reaction would only confirm for investigators just how sinister lavergne was. >> i'm not sure that you know brandon as well as you think you know him. >> okay. >> okay? >> i'd love to. >> you'd like to? >> if there's something i don't know, i need to know. >> it would take the work of two detectives to reveal the rest. >> i'm a brutally honest person. brandon is under arrest for first-degree murder. >> what? >> yes. he is without a reasonable doubt the man who kidnapped and murdered mickey shunick. >> you have proof? >> we do. >> oh, my god. >> i know. i would not walk in here and tell you this if i didn't. okay, listen to me -- >> take a deep breath. take a deep breath because you asked for proof. it's hard for you to believe
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because you think you know him so well. >> listen to me. >> oh, my god. >> take a deep breath. you want to hear the facts, right? >> yes. what's the proof? >> okay. >> i cannot lay out 100% of it, okay, not at this point. he's good at it, that's what he does. he's a sociopath. he's a manipulator, okay? >> lavergne's fiancee may have been shocked but detectives weren't. they knew something else. brandon lavergne's past was far darker than anyone had imagined. >> we learned that brandon's name had come up in a neighboring parish, that he was a suspect of a murder back in 1999. >> in fact prosecutors took the case to the grand jury, but it failed to indict, citing insufficient evidence. for detectives, it was the final piece of the puzzle that put this case over the top. for the shunicks, any lingering
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hope that mickey would be founding alive was now gone. >> me and my mom shut down after that. we just -- >> and then i got to listen to charlie through the wall cry all night. i mean, you know, the aching crying. >> but prosecutors were now struggling with worries of their own. could they get a conviction without knowing what had happened to the victim? coming up, heartbreaking new details emerge. >> she was fighting for her life and she did what she had to do. >> did mickey help solve her own case? >> amazing. good for mickey. and coming up next friday, he was a pastor with a past. wives kept dying, accidentally, but that's not all. >> when a pastor has an affair with one of the parishioners, there's something wrong. >> there was something very wrong. that's "dateline," friday,
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three weeks after police arrested brandon lavergne, the lafayette district attorney's office charged him with mickey shunick's murder. for charlie shunick, one big question had been answered. >> i went home and i looked him up and i was like, well, if this guy is responsible, mickey is definitely not alive anymore. that's probably when we all started mourning the loss of her.
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>> daniel landry and keith stutz were prosecuting lavergne. >> what made you so sure about him? >> i don't know if it was a single event or single circumstance, it was the mountain of circumstances. >> not the least of which is lavergne had been a prime suspect in a murder in 1999. the possibility that he had killed before only strengthened prosecutor stutz' resolve. >> it was how can we make this case better by the existence of this prior investigation. each case is made stronger by the existence of the other case. >> still, prosecutors knew it wouldn't be easy. this would be a death penalty case, making the bar that much higher. >> the classic defense is you're in the middle of the trial, they point at the back door and tell the jury how do you know that person is not going to walk in through that door? is that a reasonable doubt? you can ending up with a not guilty just by that fact alone. >> our primary concern was to find the body. >> but brandon lavergne wasn't cooperating.
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so prosecutors gathered to make a very tough decision, offer to take the death penalty off the table in exchange for a full confession and the whereabouts of mickey's body. >> did you hate that or were you eager to make that deal? >> i was eager to make that deal. finding the body was important obviously for the prosecution, but as important for us in this case was finding her to bring her back to her family. >> my feeling was, we want her found. >> before i could say a word, she says i want the body found. >> but the d.a.'s office wasn't going to make this easy for lavergne. he would also have to confess to the other murder back in 1999. >> he had two death penalty cases to think about, not one. >> you think that swayed him? >> i think it was a factor, certainly. >> just one day after being offered the day, lavergne accepted. >> do you think brandon lavergne is responsible for any other abductions or any other murders that you don't know about?
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>> i think it's quite possible. if he's capable of two, why not three, why not four? >> lavergne also revealed the whereabouts of mickey's body. it was here in this small rural cemetery that police found mickey, 30 miles from where she had been abducted. >> he placed her body here, covered her up with some brush. >> the coroner's office later determined mickey had been stabbed multiple times. the fatal wound was a gunshot to the head. >> it was a very violent death. >> in his confession, lavergne claimed it was all an accident. he was driving drunk and didn't mean to bump mickey's bike. he said that what followed was a heated argument that became physical. mickey pulled out her mace. lavergne pulled his knife. it was very close quarters, the cab of lavergne's truck. he won only when he drew his gun.
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>> i shot one time. i jumped out of the truck and i was like this can't be real, this can't be happening. >> what ultimately happens at the moment of the confrontation i think is -- we'll never know. >> but keith stutz is concern it did not begin as an accident. lavergne, he says, was a predator, stalking his prey. >> it's very clear from the video that he went out of his way to actually follow her. >> there was also no disputing that before lavergne fired the fatal gunshot, mickey shunick fought back hard, stabbing lavergne several times with his own knife. >> she was way outmatched and she knew she was fighting for her life and she fought. she wanted that life. mickey did what she had to do. >> you're proud of her? >> oh, absolutely. you bet. >> if she doesn't fight back, he doesn't get stabbed. >> yeah.
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>> then he has no wounds for anyone to notice, and the tip never comes in about him. i mean she caught him. >> yeah. amazing. good for mickey. >> for charlie, it had been an excruciating three-month journey. she had achieved her goal of bringing mickey home. now it was time to mourn. >> lavergne took a lot from your family. what did he take for you? >> my entire future. he rearranged my whole past. he took that whole life away from me. it's different now. took my best friend away. my little sister. >> on a very wet fall afternoon, weeks after lavergne was led away to spend the rest of his life in prison, mickey's friends and family who had all worked so hard to find her gathered to celebrate her life. >> the community was so involved, we kind of wanted to
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have a big memorial, which turned into a life celebration. >> that you all for coming out here. i know mickey still is feeling the love. >> there was food, dancing, and music. there was also, of course, a ceremonial bike ride. leading the back, mickey's mother, nancy, riding mickey's now refurbished bicycle. at the spot where mickey had been abducted, they stopped to commemorate a memorial in mickey's name. >> today this place we're gathered to place this bike in her honor and as a testament to her strength and courage. >> and then they released butterflies. >> how do you go on from this? i wouldn't have a clue. >> you just really have to think about this person and say would mickey really want me to be miserable for the rest of my life? she wouldn't want me to be sad five minutes, let alone five months almost.
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you just have to live your life for that person. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we'll see you again for "dateline" friday at 10:00, 9:00 central. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, good night. next at 11, his bay area disappearance made national headlines. tonight a break in the cold case of kevin collins. his family talks about the discovery made by police at a bay area home. and the 49ers fan who lost thousands in an online scam.
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you know, we've gotten our hopes up and gotten let down by that. so, you know, we have to -- we're skeptical. >> right now at 11:00, could it be the break they have been waiting decades for? 10-year-old kevin collins disappeared in 1984. but tonight a cold case gets a new look, and collin's brother talks to nbc bay area. good evening, everyone. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. this was a crime that captivated the bay area and the country. it's been almost 30 years. today the fbi and sfpd swarmed the house in san francisco's haight-ashbury, literally digging for bones. >> nbc bay area's george kiriyama and jean elle spoke to neighborhoods. >> reporter: that's right, jessica. neighbors out hereay

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Dateline NBC
NBC January 29, 2013 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb. (2013) Charlene Shunick opens up about her sister's disappearance and the night she went missing. New. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Mickey Shunick 11, Brandon Scott Lavergne 4, Bajat 3, Jared 3, Brettly Wilson 3, Sears 2, Kevin Collins 2, Keith Stutz 2, Mickey 2, Rosarita 2, Lester Holt 2, The Home Depot 2, New Orleans 2, America 2, Texas 2, Charlie 2, Andy Cormier 2, Stephen Bajat 2, Lavergne 2, Charlene 2
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